70-year-old Knightdale man charged with sister's murder

akenney@newsobserver.comNovember 13, 2013 

— Recently extradited from Virginia, John Wesley Winters Jr. was charged Wednesday evening with first degree murder in the death of his younger sister, 55-year-old Seanne Winters Barnette, according to an arrest reports.

Police found Barnette’s body face-up in bed on Oct. 12, covered with dried blood and draped with an American flag in the apartment they shared.

Two days before the discovery, a state trooper found John Winters parked along Interstate 95 in Virginia, seemingly disoriented, according to Knightdale Police Chief Jason Godwin.

Winters was taken to Northern Virginia Medical Center in Woodbridge, Va., where he told hospital workers there that he had stabbed his sister, according to Wake County Assistant District Attorney Howard Cummings.

The hospital tried to reach Winters’ sister, then asked the Knightdale Police Department to check on the woman, Godwin said.

Initially, Winters only was charged with the theft of his sister’s car and booked into the Prince William County Adult Detention Center. But he also carried a knife that later would be matched to more than 50 stab wounds found on Barnette’s body, Cummings told a judge last month.

He was detained in Prince William County's Adult Detention Center for about two weeks before being extradited back to Wake County and charged with murder on Wednesday.

He was held Wednesday at the Wake County Detention Center without bond.

Neighbors who live at the Alta Legacy Oaks apartment complex in Knightdale said Winters moved in with his sister about two months before the 55-year-old-woman was found dead.

Barnette’s death was only the second homicide reported in Knightdale’s history, following a killing in 2010.

Tamara Gregory, executive director of the Shepherd’s Table, a soup kitchen in downtown Raleigh, said last month that Winters had been a regular for midday meals for about three years before he stopped coming about a month earlier, save for sporadic visits.

“He hadn’t been here at all in the last couple of weeks,” Gregory said. “When I saw him, I told him I missed him. He told me, ‘Oh, I’m doing something different now.’ He seemed happy. He smiled.”

Winters and his sister were the children of John Winters Sr., a real estate and insurance company owner who was the first African-American elected to the Raleigh City Council and later was elected to the state Senate. The suspect once worked in real estate and ran for U.S. Congress in 1984.

Kenney: 919-829-4870; Twitter: @KenneyNC

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